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Wednesday, April 8, 2015

The Difference Between Attraction and Lust

Dear Bro Jo,

I just got back a month ago from my mission to Finland and life is awesome.

I'm averaging about two dates per week and I feel like I should be proactive about starting a family soon. 

As I've started focusing on women again here's one question that has come to mind quite a bit.

It's probably obvious but I tend to be a little irrational occasionally.

How do you tell the difference between lust and harmless admiration when it comes to checking out women?

Especially when they're not wearing as much clothing like sports clothes or swimwear?

My intention isn't to lust after anyone.

Some would say that it just depends on if it leads your mind to inappropriate thoughts but in my experience that pretty much only depends on how horny you are.

Obviously this is more of a spirit of the law thing but I have trouble properly discerning those sometimes.

Also, I've noticed that often even normal, everyday activities like riding the bus or showering can potentially be highly sexually stimulating which makes these things more confusing.

I tend to struggle with guilt issues and I know exactly where such feelings are coming from but it's still hard to power through them, so please help.


Objective Admirer

Dear Objective,

Excellent pseudonym.

That's the question, right?

Where's the line between admiring the attractiveness of a woman and objectifying her?

And it's tough, too, because right now it seems, as you alluded to, that so many women are told that they should dress and act like objects.

Heck, I don't know which is worse; the girls that have no idea that they're presenting themselves as objects or those that know darn well what they're doing but are angry that men see them as such .... but I digress.

We men are by wiring visual creatures.

That's not an excuse, just an acknowledgement of biological fact.

My take is this: it's very normal to be ... "sexually charged" ... especially when one is a young guy with no ... outlet, if you will, for those feelings.

I say that because I don't think you should feel guilty for being turned on.

I think the problem comes when we allow the Natural Man to control our actions.

I've heard it put these two ways:

     - Any man can look, a gentleman only looks once

     - I can go to the museum and admire a work of art, but that doesn't mean I take it off the wall and take it home

Temptations don't necessarily go away just because one becomes older or married, either.

And even if one is not attracted to a particular girl, in today's world a man needs to be very careful about appearances and the potential for unjustified accusations. (That's why I never meet with students behind closed doors, by the way. A man has to be careful about what someone might claim happened, because no matter how good a guy we may be, to be above reproach we need to never be in a position where our actions or intentions can be questioned.)

I think the typical things work pretty well: sing a hymn, take a shower, go for a run ...

Sister Jo, mother of five boys, says these feelings of attraction are good things; they're supposed to motivate us to marry.

Not that one should get married because one wants to have sex, but this .... motivation ... to start a family . . .  is a good thing.

(Sister Jo is very candid about her belief that one thing keeping LDS Men from getting married when the Lord would have them do so is that they are . . . watching porn and "having sex by themselves" . . . rather than righteously seeking an eternal companion with whom they can enjoy sex in the way that Heavenly Father recommends.)

The last thing to say, I think, is don't feel guilty about dreams and other things that happen while you're asleep. I hope that helps.

If you want to talk more or need some clarification, just let me know.


- Bro Jo

Dear Bro Jo,

The art museum analogy is really helpful.

But what do you mean by "A gentleman only looks once"?

It seems like there's a big difference between looking the art piece twice and taking it home. 

- Objective

Dear Objective,

What it means is that we're all human, and something can catch one's eye, but a gentleman realizes that to continue to stare, or to look over and over at a scantily clad woman is to objectify her.

Even if she doesn't care or isn't aware.

And yes, there's a big difference between admiring the art and coveting it.

You just keep dating RM, and it will all work out.

- Bro Jo

Dear Bro Jo,


- Objective

Dear Objective ,


- Bro Jo

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